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Regulating Communications

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. FDA


R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. FDA (E.D. Tex., Dec. 7, 2022): A Texas district court held that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s requirements for warning labels on tobacco and cigarette products violated the First Amendment. Cigarette manufacturers and retailers challenged an FDA rule requiring the display on cigarette packages of visual graphics demonstrating the dangers of smoking. Plaintiffs argued that the rule forced them to market an anti-smoking message, in violation of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech. The court determined that the graphics could be interpreted inaccurately and that the rule requiring these graphics is not narrowly-tailored enough to be constitutional. The court suggested alternative public education campaigns like school speakers and social media advertisements could meet the government’s public health goals without infringing on commercial speech and vacated the FDA rule. Read the full decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – February 15, 2023.

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